Hurricane Katrina

Donna deSilvey, 35, Ocean Springs

An achiever who didn't let anything, including cancer, stand in her way, Donna deSilvey, 34, of Shreveport, La., and Biloxi, was "Quite a young gal, I tell you," said her father, Doug deSilvey of Biloxi.

Described as determined and persistent, Donna earned three college degrees and built her own business as an athletic trainer after she won her six-year battle with a childhood cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma. It usually strikes people between ages 2 and 20 and got Donna at 19 with a tumor that blocked the motor nerves in her legs.

"When she was fighting the cancer," Doug said, "she was very determined she was not going to let it beat her, and she was not going to give up. Doctors told her she had a 50/50 chance of beating it. Her strength really prevailed there. She was a fighter."

Afterward, she chose a career that helped others build their strength.

In the business world, "she went out on her own with entrepreneurial skills she got from her grandmother and her mother," Doug said, " . . . and she was making a profit."

Because she was in Biloxi on a consulting job when Katrina came, Donna went with her parents, Doug and Linda, to stay at her grandmother's house in Gulf Hills. Only Doug survived.